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Congress Moves On Electronic Dairy Price Reporting

Congress Moves On Electronic Dairy Price Reporting
Mandatory reporting, endorsed by industry, would bring transparency to milk market.

On Tuesday, July 27, the U.S. House Agriculture Committee passed H.R. 5852 - The Mandatory Price Reporting Act of 2010. The five-year reauthorization bill directs USDA to establish an electronic reporting system for dairy products within one year of passage.

"Mandatory price reporting programs ensure that producers have access to transparent, accurate and timely market information that helps them make the best decisions for their businesses," said Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Mn.)

On July 28, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) introduced a bill with similar language for dairy, stating that the purpose of the Act is to "guarantee transparency… and help improve producers' ability to access fair market prices."

Two weeks earlier, the Senate Appropriations Committee also included a section on Dairy Price Reporting within its Agriculture Appropriations bill. It encouraged the Secretary of Agriculture to consider the recommendations of USDA's own Dairy Industry Advisory Committee.

One of those recommendations was to implement Section 1510 of the 2008 Farm Bill, which already provides the authority for electronic reporting of dairy products that's "more frequent" (daily) versus weekly, and auditing the reports quarterly instead of yearly.

Reporting is already daily for wholesale beef cuts. The new mandate for wholesale pork cuts is also daily. However, the language in H.R. 5852 is described as weekly - to be released every Wednesday for the previous week's sales.

The actions by Congress were well-received by the Dairy Policy Action Coalition, a new grass roots dairy organization rooted in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. "Testimony at the USDA / Department of Justice Dairy Competition Workshop in Madison, Wisconsin last month identified the Chicago Mercantile Exchange's cash cheese exchange as being too thinly traded and not a good price discovery vehicle," said DPAC Chairman Cliff Hawbaker.

The dairy producer from Chambersburg, Pa., also noted, "We're pleased to see Congress taking important steps in the right direction to establish electronic reporting for dairy. We urge lawmakers and USDA to continue moving forward to achieve price reporting that's daily, not weekly, and which reflects more of the products in the marketplace that are made with the milk produced by America's dairy farmers.

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